Architectural Studies


101 The Language of Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 101 and ARHA 101) This introductory course focuses on the tools used to communicate and discuss ideas in architectural practice and theory. We study both the practical, from sketching to parallel drawing, to the theoretical, from historical to critical perspectives. Connecting both, we cover the formal analysis elements necessary to “read” and critique built works. Class activities include field trips, guest presentations, sketching and drawing, small design exercises, discussion of readings, and short written responses. Through these activities, at the end of the semester the student will understand in general terms what the dealings and challenges of architecture as a discipline are.

Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Omitted 2019-20. Assistant Professor Arboleda.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Fall 2024

105 Space and Design: Introduction to Studio Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 105 and ARHA 105) This hands-on design studio will foster innovation as it guides students through the development of conceptual architecture. Through a series of projects that build on each other, students will develop their own design language and experiment with architecture at several scales - from an interior screen that plays with light, shadow and color, to a dynamic built structure and its integration into a site. We will work through both hand-drafted and computer drawings, as well as physical model-making to understand plan, section, and elevations as well as diagramming and concept models. Guest critics will attend three reviews during the semester, and students will present their work to design professionals and professors.

Requisite: No prior architecture experience is necessary, but a willingness to experiment and a desire to learn through making are essential.

Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Visiting Lecturer Chase.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Fall 2024

135 Art and Architecture of Europe from 1400 to 1800

(See ARHA 135)

152 Visual Culture of the Islamic World

(See ARHA 152)

153 World Monuments

(See ARHA 153)

154 Art and Architecture of South Asia

(See ARHA 154)

157 The Postcolonial City

(See ARHA 157)

159 Modernity and the Avant-Gardes, 1890–1945

(See ARHA 159)

160 Deconstructing Modernity: 1945–2000

(See ARHA 160)

202 Architectural Anthropology

(Offered as ARCH 202 and ARHA 202) This seminar explores the emerging interdisciplinary field that combines the theory and practice of architecture and anthropology. We compare and contrast these two disciplines’ canonical methods, their ethical stances, and their primary subject matters (i.e., buildings and people). With that, we reflect upon the challenges of ethnoarchitecture as a new discipline, emphasizing the challenges of carrying out architectural research and/or construction work among people from cultural backgrounds different than the architect’s own. In general, this course invites critical thinking about the theory and practice of architecture, especially when it confronts issues of difference, including ethno-cultural and social class differences.

Recommended prior coursework: The course is open to everyone; previous instruction in architectural studies, area or ethnic studies, or social studies can be beneficial but is not mandatory.

Limited to 20 students. Fall Semester. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Arboleda.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023

203 Cityscapes: Imagining the European City

(Offered as ARCH 203 and EUST 203) Cities, the largest human artifact, have been at the center of Europeans’ relationships with nature, gods, and their own kind since their first appearance. With the advent of capitalist energy, the European city went through radical change. The resultant invention, re-invention and growth of major metropolises will be the subject of this course.

We will discuss histories and theories of the city and of the urban imagination in Europe since the eighteenth century. We will consider Paris, London, Berlin, Rome, and St. Petersburg, among others, and the counter-example of New York City. We will study examples of city planning and mapping, urban architecture, film and photography, painting, poetry, fiction, and urban theory. And, we may study Atget, Baudelaire, Benjamin, Calvino, Dickens, Joyce, Rilke, Truffaut, Zola, and others.

Questions addressed will include: To what extent do those who would “improve” a city take into account the intangible qualities of that city? How do the economics of capital compromise with the economics of living? How does the body—healthy and unhealthy—interact with the built environment? How and why does the imagination create an “invisible city” that rivals the “real” geo-political site? Two classes per week.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Rosbottom.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017

204 Housing, Urbanization, and Development

(Offered as ARCH 204, ARHA 204 and LLAS 204) This course studies the theory, policy, and practice of low-income housing in marginalized communities worldwide. We study central concepts in housing theory, key issues regarding low-income housing, different approaches to address these issues, and political debates around housing the poor. We use a comparative focus, going back and forth between the cases of the United States and the so-called developing world. By doing this, we engage in a “theory from without” exercise: We attempt to understand the housing problem in the United States from the perspective of the developing world, and vice versa. We study our subject through illustrated lectures, seminar discussions, documentary films, visual analysis exercises, and a field trip.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Arboleda.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2025

205 Sustainable Design: Principles, Practice, Critique

(Offered as ARCH 205 and ARHA 205) This theory seminar aims to provide students with a strong basis for a deep engagement with the practice of sustainability in architectural design. The studied material covers both canonical literature on green design and social science-based critical theory. We start by exploring the key tenets of the sustainable design discourse, and how these tenets materialize in practice. Then, we examine sustainable design in relation to issues such as inequality and marginality. As we do this, we locate sustainability within the larger environmental movement, studying in detail some of the main approaches and standards of sustainable design, the attempts to improve this practice over time, and the specific challenges confronting these attempts. In addition to reading discussions, we study our subject through student presentations and written responses, a field trip, and two graphic design exercises.

Recommended prior coursework: The course is open to everyone, but students would benefit from having a previous engagement with a course in architectural design, architectural history and/or theory, introduction to architectural studies, or environmental studies.

Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

209 Space and Design: Intermediate Studio Architecture

(Offered as ARCH 209 and ARHA 209) This course will be a design investigation of sustainable architecture. Students will research cutting edge innovations in green technology and present their findings through graphic boards and verbal presentations. They will then design their own systems for water collection, air filtration, energy capture, site strategies, and solar power. A design language will be developed through a series of rigorous design exercises and creative innovation, and will culminate in a building project. Students will further develop sketching, drafting and model-making skills both by hand and with the computer. Guest critics will attend three reviews during the semester, and students will present their work to design professionals and professors.

Requisite: ARCH 105 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Chase.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

210 Shapes of Utopia: Radical French Architects and Urban Planners, from Boullée to Le Corbusier

(Offered as ARCH 210 and FREN 210) This course will introduce students to visionary French architects and urban planners who attempted to redefine perceptions of private and public space. Taking the visions of Enlightenment architects Louis-Etienne Boullée and Claude-Nicolas Ledoux as a starting point, we will explore the many shapes of utopian design, all the way to Pierre Chareau’s 1932 “Maison de verre” in the heart of Paris and Le Corbusier’s futuristic blueprint “towards a modern architecture.” We will assess these designs in their historical and cultural context while tying them to broader issues of private life, political authority, and gender and class distinctions. One of the main themes that will guide our investigation will be the idea of architecture as an element of social cohesion and political harmony. The last part of the course will be devoted to an analysis of architecture and urban planning in the French Empire during the colonial era, with particular attention to North Africa (especially Algiers). Course materials will be drawn from visual sources (drawings, prints, maps, plans), essays by architects and city planners, critical essays by architectural historians, film, and fiction. This course requires no previous knowledge either of French or of architectural history.

Omitted 2019-20. Professor Katsaros.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019

232 Cartographic Cultures: Making Maps, Building Worlds

(See ARHA 232)

250 Humanitarian Design in Theory and Practice

(Offered as ARCH 250 and ARHA 250) This course explores the challenges and possibilities of humanitarian design, a growing area of interest in architectural practice. The course includes a field trip to Ecuador, to take place over Spring Break. This field component is deeply integrated into the course contents. During the first part of the semester, students become familiar with relevant theoretical and practice-based approaches to disaster reconstruction. With that, they gain an understanding of the complexities of this area, and a good grasp of the tasks and issues to be dealt with in the field. Upon returning from Ecuador, the rest of the semester is devoted to debriefing, producing and analyzing documentation, and drawing general lessons for the theory and practice of humanitarian design. The main case study is that of post-disaster reconstruction following Ecuador’s 2016 Pedernales Earthquake, which killed over 600 people and injured over 16,000. We will study the outcome of diverse reconstruction efforts and approaches four years after the earthquake. In order to compare and contrast approaches, our fieldwork will focus on two settings, an urban and a rural one, both located in the coastal Manabí province.

Limited to 12 Amherst College students. Admission with consent of the instructor. There will be an application process before pre-registration. Those students selected will have their travel expenses covered. Spring semester. Assistant Professor Arboleda. 

[Update November 2019: The course application process is closed and students have already been selected. This course is open to Amherst College students only].

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

253 The Modern Metropolis

(See ARHA 253)

257 The Colonial City: Global Perspectives

(See ARHA 257)

258 Art, Things, Spaces, and Places

(See ARHA 258)

259 Utopia: Visionary Architecture, Art and Theory

(See ARHA 259)

281 The Arts of Exchange: Cross-Cultural Interaction in the Islamic World, 1400–1800

(See ARHA 281)

360 Performance

(See GERM 360)

363 Traumatic Events

(See GERM 363)

364 Architectures of Disappearance

(See GERM 364)

365 Making Memorials

(See GERM 365)

369 TIME

(Offered as ARCH 369 and EUST 369) This research seminar will explore conceptions of time as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, philosophy, neuroscience, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual/sonic materials will be drawn from the fields of European literature, philosophy and critical theory; from architectural, art, music, neuroscience and film theory and history; from performance studies and performance theory; and from theories of technology and the natural and built environment. We will sustain a focus on issues of perception, cognition, duration, movement, attention, imagination, memory, and narrative throughout. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is central to this seminar. Conducted in English.

Preference given to ARCH and EUST majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment. Limited to 12 students. Fall Semester. Professor Gilpin.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Fall 2019, Fall 2023

390, 490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Fall 2024, Spring 2025

498, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors.

A full course. Spring semester. The Department.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2025

Non-Language Departmental Courses

220 Reinventing Tokyo: The Art, Literature, and Politics of Japan's Modern Capital

(See ASLC 220)

Non-Language Courses


(See GERM 368)

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